Cold, wet weather did nothing to dampen the team spirit on full display from Team KATUSHA ALPECIN at the 55th Eschborn-Frankfurt ‘Rund um den Finanzplatz' on Monday as team leader Alexander Kristoff and key lead-out man Rick Zabel went 1-2 on the finish line. It was the third time Kristoff earned top honors in the German race, defending his 2016 and 2014 titles.
“I was a little bit dropped on the last climb but I had a strong team around me to pull me back. Without them I would have had no chance. We came back just before the laps and Rick was guiding me through the corners at the end and he did a perfect lead out for me and ended up second himself. Luckily he was my teammate in those last few k’s because otherwise I think he would have won the race! Earlier Tony Martin and Angel Vicioso and also team Bora Hansgrohe were working with us. Then at the end Nils Politt and Zabel took over. It was a big team effort to get back on the front that enabled me to sprint for the victory. We are really happy and it was a great performance,” said Alexander Kristoff.
The winning time of 5:29:33 (39.818 km/h) on the 218.7k course from Eschborn to Frankfurt was 1-second ahead of Zabel and two-seconds ahead of third place finisher John Degenkolb of Trek-Segafredo. The victory marked the seventh team win of the season and 6th personal win for Alexander Kristoff.
Rick Zabel, 23, put up a strong performance throughout the day, using his superior bike handling skills to move through the tricky, wet corners and keep Kristoff safely near the front. His hard work rewarded him with a second place finish.
“This was a great day. I am really happy with how the team did today and mine and Alex’s performances. Second in a WorldTour race is also super, a very good result for me. It was a great day for us and we can be super happy,” said Rick Zabel.
“This was the coldest one I can remember. It was quite cold with the rain all day. I took off my jacket and rode the last three laps without it, but I was regretting it the whole way. It was very cold today, but the same guys as usual were still there fighting for victory,” concluded Kristoff.
Photo credit © Tim De Waele